Liles back for a second helping with defense
When defenseman John-Michael Liles was inserted into the lineup for the Bruins’ game against the Predators on Tuesday, it certainly seemed like a one-game event. Let the veteran shake off some rust and give second-year NHL defenseman Colin Miller a different perspective from upstairs for a game.
Liles’ play, however, against Nashville forced a change of course. He was back in the lineup last night against Dallas at the Garden, and Miller sat for a second straight game. The Bruins beat the Stars, 2-0, as Liles played steady hockey for 12:01 and probably earned future ice time down the stretch.
“I thought he got back on pucks well and broke it out well,” said interim coach Bruce Cassidy. “He’s good with Kevan Miller, they complement each other well. He has worked hard to stay conditioned, stay sharp to get in the lineup, so we’re going to give him another chance. I think it’s a good matchup for him as well.”
Cassidy agreed the B’s have to be careful not to stunt the confidence and development of a young Colin Miller. But this is what the team needs at this moment. “He’s young, but he’s not Brandon Carlo young. He’s played pro for three or four years. Part of it is him understanding the consistency every night factor and playing to his strengths. Then it’s balancing it with what Johnny’s given us,” said Cassidy.
“When Colin does come in I hope he’s better off for it and not worse off. That’s the plan. And in the meantime, Johnny gives us good solid minutes.”
Before Tuesday, Liles’ previous game action was Feb. 26 against Dallas. After that much time off, he was happy with his performance, which included 13-plus minutes of ice time with a plus-1, two shots and two blocked shots on Tuesday.
“It was nice to get back into the lineup and to contribute,” he said. “I thought for the most part it went well, having not played for a month or so. It’s never easy, but it took me a couple of shifts.”
Nash goes on offensive
Riley Nash had a modest but impactful three-game point streak (3-2-5) halted last night. The former first-round pick often demonstrates terrific handeye coordination and his pass to
Noel Acciari on the Bruins’ insurance goal against Nashville was a beauty.
For the season, however, Nash has only seven goals with nine assists in 76 games. Consistent offensive production has always been a struggle for Nash. Cassidy was asked about that the difference in Nash.
“Sometimes when you’re down in the lineup and you’re asked to check and not get scored on, then you lose some of those offensive instincts and then all of a sudden you’re always worried about getting back instead of on those 50-50 pucks, using your anticipation and offensive instincts. And then you lose your confidence if you’re not scoring,” Cassidy said. . . .
In the third period, defenseman Adam McQuaid appeared to suffer a serious injury when his right knee buckled while checking Dallas forward Brett Ritchie. McQuaid got off the ice on his own but needed assistance down the runway. He did return later in the period and was out with the penalty-kill unit during a critical fourminute kill down the stretch. . . .
Dallas forward Curtis McKenzie was taken to the hospital by ambulance after catching an accidental high stick from Kevan Miller.
“It looks like his eye is OK,” said Dallas coach Lindy Ruff. “But he’s got a serious cut that’s going to have to get closed up, and there may be some muscle injury up there.” . . .
Frank Vatrano suffered what is believed to be a minor upper-body injury in practice Wednesday and sat out last night. Matt Beleskey took his place on the line with
Ryan Spooner and Jimmy Hayes.
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